NIFA Letter

June 27, 2007

Washington, June 27, 2007 

The Honorable Collin Peterson
Chairman
House Committee on Agriculture
1301 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515

Dear Chairman Peterson:

With genuine concern for the future prosperity of American agriculture we write to commend your introduction of legislation that would carry out the tremendous promise of a National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA). We joined you in this visionary endeavor, by authoring a letter in support of this legislation, to usher in a new era of enhanced research and development at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). We urge you to include this legislation in the Research title of the 2007 Farm Bill.

For nearly thirty years research and development at the USDA has staggered to keep pace with inflation. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) have enjoyed annual growth rates totaling nearly 6 % and 4 % respectively while the USDA has struggled to maintain a 1% growth rate. We believe this disparity can be largely attributed to the structure of these research bodies and how scientific decisions are made. At the NSF, competitive, peer-reviewed grants approximate nearly 90% of expenditures and at the NIH nearly 85% of spending is carried out in a competitive manner. At the USDA, that number is 8%. In competitive, peer-reviewed awards, long considered to be the optimal way of achieving scientific discovery, the NIH currently outspends the USDA 150 to 1.

As you know, the proposed National Institute for Food and Agriculture recognizes the important contributions made through various funding mechanisms including formula funds and important applied research discoveries. Indeed, research findings are only as good as the technology it produces for farmers and ranchers. NIFA strives to rebalance the portfolio of USDA R&D so that the sizable gap between food, nutrition and agriculture research and all other forms of federal research investments is narrowed. To do this, a proven model most closely resembling the NIH is the very essence of the NIFA proposal and one which we believe should be enacted in this Farm Bill.

As evidenced by our support for the National Institute for Food and Agriculture Act of 2007, we stand with you in our commitment to NIFA as the cornerstone of the Research title of the 2007 Farm Bill and our enduring support for its long term implementation and complete success.

Sincerely,

American Dietetics Association

American Society for Nutrition

American Society of Plant Biologists

American Soybean Association

American Veterinary Medical Association

Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology

Grocery Manufacturers Association/Food Products Association

Institute of Food Technologists

National C-FAR

National Chicken Council

National Corn Growers Association

National Farmers Union

National Pork Producers Council

National Renderers Association

National Turkey Federation

North Central Weed Science Society (NCWSS)

Northeastern Weed Science Society (NEWSS)

Southern Weed Science Society (SWSS)

University of California System

University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

University of California, Berkeley, College of Natural Resources

University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine

University of California, Davis, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences

University of California, Riverside, College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

University of Florida Agriculture Experiment Station

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Weed Science Society of America (WSSA)

Western Society of Weed Science (WSWS)